The stock Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) is a capable touring bike, and with a few modifications, it also makes an excellent city bike. The thing I like most about it is its versatility; it reminds me of the do-everything steel-framed bikes of the 1980′s and ’90′s such as the Trek 720 and Bridgestone XO-1.
I’m riding a modified LHT as a commuter/city bike/grocery hauler. It’s been a great bike so far, but there were a few nagging issues I’ve been wanting to deal with:
- The stock 175mm cranks were too long for me and I’ve been wanting to swap them for 170′s.
- The stock triple comes with 26/36/48 chainrings which are fairly standard for loaded touring, but because I’m using the LHT for city riding, I found myself frequently shifting between the 36T and 48T chainrings, and rarely ever shifting to the 26T granny. What I really needed was a 40T ring for everyday city riding, and something around a 32T small ring for carrying loads.
- The lack of a chainguard was becoming a real nuisance.
In searching around the web for a replacement 170mm crank, I ran across an unusual set-up on the Rivendell site. Their Quickbeam (QB) singlespeed comes outfitted with a reversible rear hub with a cog on each side, and a Sugino XD2 triple crank with a chainguard, 40T middle ring, and 32T inner ring.
Here’s the concept:
The Quickbeam is our orange only single-speed that’s actually a two-speed and is a quick change away from being a four-speed. That’s because it comes with two count ‘em chainrings (40t and 32t) and a flip-flop hub with an 18t freewheel on one side and room for another cog on the other. But there’s more to it than that.
The idea of a four-speed with no derailleurs is vintage esoteric Rivendell, but what caught my eye is the QB crankset. With its 40/32 chainrings, chainguard in place of the outer ring, and square-taper compatibility, it was exactly what I was looking for. My original plan was to order a standard Sugino XD2 triple, change out the two smaller rings and ditch the 48T for a chainguard – a relatively expensive and wasteful idea. Fortunately, Rivendell sells the XD2 triple in the custom QB configuration on their website, so I ordered one and it arrived today.
The QB Sugino is essentially the same crank as the Sugino that came stock on the LHT, so it was a simple bolt-on affair. I slapped it on, took it our for a ride, and it feels great. The 40T places my cassette in the center of my comfort range for city riding, the 170mm arms feel more natural and easier on the knees, and the chainguard does what it’s supposed to do. I really lucked out; it’s not often you stumble upon a solution like this that kills three birds with one stone.